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Western Colorado's Selective University

Library History

John U. Tomlinson University Library 2015 - Present

As Colorado Mesa University reached an enrollment of approximately 10,000 students, the need to expand and update what President Foster terms "the heart of the campus" became crucial. Funds were raised for the project and the library's collection and staff were temporarily disbursed to satellite locations to continue offering services during reconstruction. The new facility re-opened briefly in time for students to use for finals after Thanksgiving break in 2015, then celebrated its Grand Re-opening in January 2016. New technology rich collaborative study spaces and instruction classrooms, quiet study rooms, compact shelving for book and journal collections, and a wide variety of student work stations, dramatically increasing computer access, are highlights of the new facility. In addition, the Technology Help Desk was relocated to the library and a coffee shop and dining services option are also located in the building to help students access services they value in one place.

The Mesa State College Library: A Brief History 

by Don MacKendrick, Emeritus Professor of History, Mesa State College

Tomlinson Library 1986 - 2015

With the Lowell Heiny Library overcrowded, construction of a new 68,000 square foot facility costing over $6,000,000 began in 1984. Recognized as an architectural gem in American School and University magazine, the new library was dedicated in 1986 and in 1988 named for outgoing college president John U. Tomlinson to honor his commitment to improved library services at the college. Tomlinson Library contained over 300,000 volumes, including a large government documents collection, and a world class geology library. It was equipped with updated, state-of-the-art computer technology and was considered one of the finest small college libraries in the state.

Heiny Library 1967-1986

Thanks to a generous federal library construction grant, Mesa College got a new $846,000 library facility in 1966, the Lowell Heiny Library. With 21,000 square feet of useable floor space, this modern facility quickly grew to over 45,000 volumes in 1973 and to 71,000 volumes in 1976. In 1976 the junior college district was dissolved and Mesa College became a baccalaureate degree granting state college. The collection reached over 126,000 volumes by 1984.

Murr Library 1940-1967

The former grant led to designation of the college library as the Murr Memorial Library, a name that applied until 1967.

The College became a county junior college in 1937 and was renamed Mesa College. A new campus on North Avenue was occupied in 1940 with the library located on the second floor of the main classroom building (later named Houston Hall) where it quickly outgrew its approximately 4,000 square feet of floor space as the collection expanded to over 20,000 volumes by 1965.

Grand Junction Junior College Library 1925-1940

The Tomlinson Library at Mesa State College, like the college, evolved from humble beginnings.

Founded in 1925 as Grand Junction Junior College and initially located in an abandoned school building (the old Lowell School) in the city's downtown area, the college's original book collection numbered under 2,000 volumes. It was housed in locked cases in the dean's office. There was no librarian.

In 1933 a professional librarian, Lillian Sabin, was hired and a library was organized on the second floor of the college building. By 1940, the collection had grown to 7,000 volumes thanks to a grant from Hattie Pierson Murr (1935) and the Carnegie Foundation (1937).